Three Vanuatu personalities dead – Heather Lini-Leo, Philip Kating, Mavis Salt

Deaths top the news stories today …

Heather Lini-Leo

Heather Lini-Leo. Photo: British Friends of Vanuatu

Heather Lini-Leo Matas died at the weekend. She was Vanuatu’s first indigenous female lawyer. Wife of Ombudsman Kalkot Mataskelekele, Heather (sister of the first PM Walter Lini and eighth of ten Lini children from North Pentecost) was most recently serving as the principal legal officer in the National Provident Fund (VNPF). She had held a wide variety of senior legal positions in government. She studied law in PNG, Australia and the United Kingdom. A funeral service is planned for Wednesday morning at 7 at the Anglican Church, Tagabe, and the body will be flown to Pentecost for burial.

Philip Kating

Philip Kating. Photo:

Vanuatu’s first professional boxer, Philip Kating, passed away midday Sunday after an injury caused by another person. Kating, now believed to be in his sixties, held a number of Pacific titles and turned professional in Fiji in 1980. He won the only gold medal for the New Hebrides — as we still were — in the Guam South Pacific Games in 1975, earning himself the title of Golden Boy.

Anglican missionary teacher Mavis Salt passed away earlier this month in the United Kingdom. She was the last of a long line of such professionals from the times when the mission was based on Norfolk Island. Mavis Salt’s last position was as principal of the Torgil Training Centre for girls at Lolowai, Ambae, from 1955 to 1976. Indeed her house at Lolowai had originally been used by the Mission on Norfolk Island and later accompanied the Mission to Mota before coming to rest on Ambae. A number of women in Port Vila still remember Mavis as “my teacher”, the dedicated trainer ensuring those who could benefit from more extensive training in education continued at the Kawenu Teachers’ Training College in Vila. Mavis Salt will be cremated at Yeovil in the UK on 22 January. A memorial service has already been held.

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